ASAJA Alicante demands that Agriculture suspend logging and make way for research at the Biovexo Xylella Forum in Alicante

The president of ASAJA Alicante, José Vicente Andreu, has demanded that the Regional Ministry of Agriculture abandon the strategy of felling healthy almond trees to tackle the Xylella fastidiosa plague that the province has been suffering since 2017. He did so at the opening of the Xylella Forum, organised by the Biovexo project at the Hotel Maya in Alicante, where experts from public and private research have gathered to analyse solutions for this plague that is spreading through olive and almond trees in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.

At the first press conference of the day, ASAJA’s technical manager for the Biovexo project, Manuel Lucena, explained that «the spread of Xylella has increased rapidly in southern Europe, devastating fields of olive and almond trees without there being a solution to contain the pest». A situation that «puts Europe’s economic and socio-cultural sustainability at risk». «At Biovexo, we are researching high-performance biopesticides that combat the bacteria and the vector,» explained the specialist from the agricultural organisation.

The president of ASAJA Alicante in his speech accused the Generalitat of having «curtailed» research and scientific experimentation and not contemplating the move from eradication to containment after five years of destroying the area. However, Andreu celebrated at the opening «that five years later we can finally debate other solutions and discuss Xylella from the perspective of research, plant health, science and phytosanitary solutions». The agricultural leader has harshly criticised the actions of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture in Alicante. «The action has been, to say the least, disloyal to the farmers affected. Management based on opacity, lack of empathy and no information. A management that has destroyed 177,000 almond trees and has wiped out the unirrigated almond trees in three regions in the north of Alicante,» he continued.

The strategy of uprooting and crushing all the trees within a radius of 50 metres of the affected specimen that the Regional Ministry of Agriculture has maintained for the last five years has shown that «the cure is worse than the disease», according to Andreu. It has caused «irreparable damage to the environment, the landscape, tourism, the local economy and has encouraged depopulation», which makes it «a failed strategy» according to the agrarian leader.

Andreu ended his speech by denouncing the «economic background» of this strategy. «One of the reasons why the Regional Ministry has not taken the decision to move to containment», the measure that allows affected specimens to be kept for study, «is that the EU provides funds for the eradication plan and not for the containment plan, which has to be assumed with the regional administration’s own resources», the president of ASAJA Alicante emphasised.